Do you have difficulty expressing your anger? Are you unable to say no? Are you suffering from a constant need to prove yourself or to do it all? Do you often feel tired and burned out? If so, you are probably experiencing the symptoms of stress.

Stress left unattended will lead to burnout. Aren’t you tired of living an unhealthy lifestyle?

We all have different sources of stress and different ways of handling those stressors. First, what is a stressor? This is different for everyone, but more common stressors are traffic, rude people, bills, family, friends, too many activities, too few activities, job, health issues, relationships . . . the list can go on and on. What one person considers stressful, another might not. It is not so much a person, place, or situation that stresses you out as it is how you react to it.

Stressor + Thought + Response = STRESS!

A stressor added to your thoughts about it, added to your response, can equal stress.

Connie, a college student studying for her MBA, explains it this way: “A stressor for me is traffic. I know I hate getting caught in it, and that leads to my getting aggressive behind the wheel.” Connie’s thought of hate adds to her response of aggression, which only equals stress.
Signs of Stress

Some signs of stress include, but are not limited to, the following three areas.

Psychological. Depression; boredom; urge to cry; worry; helpless feelings; urge to run.
Situational. Fault finding/blaming; perfectionism; aggressiveness; smoking; over/under eating; reclusive behavior; argumentative attitude.
Physical. Headache; muscle tension; high blood pressure; heart pounding; stomach problems; sweating; dizziness.

Stress Management

Stress management involves observing your stressor and shifting how you define your thoughts about it to respond in a nonstressful way.

Let’s look at the three main areas that stress affects and learn techniques in managing your thought responses. Remember, we are not talking about stress elimination, but stress management. It is impossible to totally eliminate stress as it is part of daily life. However, it is possible to change how we react to it.

Psychological Stress

1. Manage how you talk to yourself. Listen to the words you are saying to yourself throughout the day. Are you saying, “I should know everything” or “I should never lose my temper”? These thoughts set unrealistic expectations. No one is perfect—why do you believe you should be? Counter these thoughts with their opposites, such as “I may not know everything, but I am pretty smart at some things” or “I lost my temper this time, but now I am aware of it and next time will keep calm.” Simply talking to yourself and defeating the negative self-talk with positive statements helps to lift your spirits.

2. Don’t take yourself so damn seriously! Life is not meant to be hard and miserable. Our lives were meant to be filled with joy and abundance as per scripture, John 10:10: “I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.” So choose life! Bring out your creativity. What hobbies or activities did you once enjoy that you are no longer involved in? If you once played a musical instrument, play it again. Read, sew, play tennis, watch a comedy, socialize with positive, fun people, or read a bedtime story to a child. The point is to do something you find fun and exciting.

Situational Stress

Stress is a sign of reduced productivity through procrastination, inflexibility, poor memory recall, perfectionism, unrealistic deadlines, or disorganization. Following are some solutions on increasing your efficiency, while lowering your stress level.

1. Do only one thing at a time. Start with the biggest, hardest tasks on your to-do list, followed by the smaller, easier tasks. Too many people begin with the smaller tasks only to run out of time before starting the larger tasks, and they become overwhelmed and stressed out. Start with the biggest task because when you complete it, the sense of accomplishment will make you feel good and help you to move on quickly to the smaller tasks.

2. Group errands or tasks together. Plan your driving route for the day. Instead of driving all over town with no real plan, group your errands together to help save time. If you need to go to the post office, cleaner’s, gas station, and grocery store, then plan your route for the shortest drive possible. If the post office and cleaner’s are closer, then go there first on your way to the gas station, and end at the grocery store. The main purpose is not to backtrack and waste time.

3. Delegate, delegate, delegate! Probably the hardest thing for most people to do, especially perfectionists, is to delegate activities. Remember, you do not have to do it all. Delegate easier tasks to family members, coworkers, neighbors, or friends. You may be surprised at how willing others are to help you. Do yourself a favor and ask.

Physiological Stress

Stress affects our bodies in various ways, however, we can protect our health with the following: (1) eat balanced meals; (2) exercise regularly; and (3) learn to relax daily.

You probably have read enough informational articles on diet and exercise, but do you really know how to relax? Learning how to relax daily will help you manage your stress. I personally like meditation and prayer to put me in a relaxed state. Deep breathing is another helpful technique. Try this exercise right now: take a deep breath in through your nose for a five-second count, hold for three more seconds, and then exhale though your mouth for a count of five seconds. Repeat this entire exercise five times.

Notice how you now feel? Can you feel the relaxation seeping through your entire body? Deep breathing is easy to do anywhere, whether you are in the office, stuck in traffic, standing in line, or waiting in the doctor’s office. You can use this technique today, right now.

Managing Your Stress

The main thing to remember in stress management is that you are responsible for your overall health. Know what your stressors are, and understand that your responses to them have not worked in the past and need to be redefined.

Remember Connie, our MBA college student stuck in commuting traffic? I coached her on ways to redefine her thoughts regarding traffic, and she now manages her stress in a completely different way. “When I realized that I was creating my own stress regarding the traffic, I decided I needed to stop getting angry about something that was totally out of my control. I took the time spent in my car to listen to audio books of some of my college courses, and now I’m actually ahead in my studies. I no longer get stressed out in traffic but look forward to the time in the car for listening to my classes.”

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Susan Ratynski is a sought after life coach and speaker. Founder and President of Enjoy Life! Coaching, she specializes in personal and career coaching that connects your mind, body, and spirit to help you achieve maximum results for a balanced lifestyle. Susan’s educational background is in psychology, organizational development, and life coaching. She is a workshop and seminar leader in topics such as the Law of Attraction and stress management skills. Susan is also a contributing author for “Stimuli Art,” a paperback magazine. If you are ready to attract more abundance, prosperity, and success into your life, contact Susan at